Book Review: The End of Illness by Dr. David Agus

Abstract:  The truth is that some doctors inflict a lot of harm today. The entire notion of “do no harm” has been corrupted; we’ve moved to an extreme place in medicine that’s rarely data-driven and is horrendously overrun by false or unproven claims. And that’s scary.

Yeong Sek Yee & Khadijah Shaari

10, Jalan SS 19/1K, 47500 Subang Jaya, Selangor.

Tel: 03-56342775 / 019-3278092

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The Author:  Dr David B. Agus, MD, is a professor of medicine and engineering at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and Viterbi School of Engineering and heads USC’s Westside Cancer Centre and the Centre for Applied Molecular Medicine. He is the co-founder of two pioneering personalized medicine companies, Navigencies and Applied Proteomics. Dr. Agus is an international leader in cancer care and new technologies and approaches for personalized health care and chairs the Global Agenda Council on Genetics for the World Economic Forum.

Introduction:  When Dr Agus decided to pursue a career in oncology, many of his mentors questioned his choice. Why, they asked, would a promising young doctor want to enter a field known for its inescapably grim outcomes? Although, it was precisely the lack of progress that inspired Dr Agus to join the war on cancer, he moved away from the modern methods of the medical establishment, which aim to reduce our afflictions to a single point. Why did he do so?

The following excerpts from the book give us an indication of his views on the effectiveness of modern medicine or specifically on the effectiveness of the conventional treatment of cancer:

a)      Cancer treatment is the place where we take the most risks in medicine because, frankly, there’s little hope for survival in many cases, and the cure is as evasive today as it ever was (page 1 ).

b)      I (Dr Agus) am infuriated by the statistics, disappointed in the progress that the medical profession  has made, and exasperated by the backward thinking that science continues to espouse, which no doubt cripples our hunt for that magic bullet (page 2 ).

c)      I (Dr Agus) am a realist, and the facts of cancer and many other life-threatening diseases are unnerving. In an age when we can communicate in seconds with people around the world using slick devices we tote in our pockets, it’s a shame that the technology and innovation in medical research and treatment are so archaic, out-dated, and, dare I say, in some cases barbaric (page 3).

d)      Rather than honouring the body as the exceedingly complex systems that it is, we keep looking for the individual gene that has gone awry or for the one “secret” that can improve our health. This kind of short-sightedness had led us far astray (page 4).

e)      The truth is that some doctors inflict a lot of harm today. The entire notion of “do no harm” has been corrupted; we’ve moved to an extreme place in medicine that’s rarely data-driven and is horrendously overrun by false or unproven claims. And that’s scary (pages 4-5).

f)       When we reduce science down to the goal of finding the tiniest improvements in treatment rather than genuine break-throughs, we lose sight of the bigger picture and find ourselves lost (page 6).

g)      Is this why we’ve barely budged in our “war” against cancer in the last five decades? (page 6)

h)      I am an oncologist who cannot treat advanced cancer well. Medical science has made extraordinary progress over the past century, but in my field, the progress stalled out decades ago (page 6).

i)        The death rate from cancer from 1950 to 2007 didn’t change much. (page 25 )

j)        We are making enormous progress against other chronic diseases, but little against cancer (page 25).

k)      With the more common deadly cancers, including those that ravage the lung, colon, breast, prostate and brain we’ve had an embarrassingly small impact on death rates (page 25).

l)        The lack of change in the death rate from cancer is truly alarming (page 26 ).

m)  When cancer is exposed to chemotherapy, drug-resistant mutants can escape. In other words, just as resistant strains of bacteria can result from antibiotic use, anticancer drugs can produce resistant cancer cells (page 37).

n)    The number of mutations shoots up exponentially as a cancer patient is treated with drugs such as chemotherapy, which inherently causes more mutations (page 39).

o)      When chemotherapy drugs bind to DNA, they can cause cancer just as radiation can cause cancer by mutating the genome. This helps explain why survivors of breast cancer, for instance, can suffer  from leukaemia later in life due to the chemotherapy they received to cure their breast cancer (page 39 ).

p)      It’s human nature to want to find magic bullets in medicine, but they happen once in a blue moon, and we may already have had all of our blue-moon moments. We haven’t found many new pills lately that really cure diseases. This is why the pharmaceutical industry is somewhat broken right now; it has run out of low-hanging fruit, a magical chemical that cures a disease. I don’t think we’re likely to find a lot more of those; it seems like a waste of time, money, and resources to keep looking for these magic bullets. We need a different approach -a new model (page 41-42).

q)      Right now, when doctors test a drug, they are looking at one variable over a discrete period of time. They only discover potentially bad side effects in retrospective studies – looking back after people have been taking the drug for a long time, or by pooling several studies together (page 47).

r)        There’s a lot of trial and error in my business. We don’t have the technology yet to precisely predict what medicine you’ll respond to or which one will work best (page 64).

s)       Despite chemotherapy’s being a widely used treatment for cancer, nobody has even shown that most chemotherapy actually touches a cancer cell. It’s never been proven (page 86).

t)       When people ask me (Dr Agus) why most cancer drug development in lab animals doesn’t work or cannot easily be applied to solve human problems, there are three reasons:

  • First, tumors grow slowly in humans as compared to in lab animals, where we can grow tumors in two weeks that represent 20 to 30 percent of the animal’s whole body size.  (page 93)
  • Second, it’s hard to compare human tumors with those in other animals. Human tumors tend to be unique, and when we try to replicate a human tumor in another animal we cannot achieve the exact same characteristics to study and manipulate (page 94).
  • Finally, controlling for the way various drugs work in different living bodies also presents an insurmountable challenge.(page 94)

Below are Dr Agus’s comments on some chemotherapy drugs: 

a) Avastin (bevacizumab) could cause bleeding in the brain….. (page 88),

b) Iressa (gefitinib)….patients who were on the drug showed improvement in its

symptoms but their tumours didn’t shrink (page 92),

c) Tarceva (erlotinib)…..helped lung cancer patients live longer but their tumours didn’t shrink (page 92),

d) Taxol (placitaxel)….when given to ladies with mestastatic cancer….”a great response”

which means that those women will show a 50% shrinkage in their tumour,,,,but the cancer will then  come back… i.e. the cancer “recurs” and the patient “relapses” (page 92).

Below are some more shocking comments from Dr Agus:

a) Doctors such as me (Dr Agus) arrive at solutions through plain old trial and error, and therefore we can’t always

explain how things work (page 89).

b) Doctors, (Dr Agus) included, don’t actually know how these drugs kill cancer cells at all (page 89).

c) Unfortunately, our only metric for success is shrinking a tumour. Slowing down its growth isn’t usually accepted as

success (page 92).

d) We already have all the drugs we need to treat the vast majority of diseases….we just don’t know how to use this library of drugs  (method), how much to use (dosage), and when (schedule).

In conclusion, Dr Agus admits that drug resistance may be the reason why chemotherapy drugs may not work:

“My field in particular is a breath-taking spectrum of gray shades. Most people don’t understand that if your cancer is four centimeters in diameter and you come back four months down the road and the cancer is now six centimeters, we call that resistant…..your cancer is resistant to the drug” 

The Above Book Reviewed Is Yet Another Book Which Your Doctor/Oncologist Will Never Advise You To Read. Other Such “Banned” Books/Resources You May Want To Read (Which Your Oncologist Will Never Advise You) Are Listed Below:

 1) THE COMPASSIONATE ONCOLOGIST by Dr James W. Forsythe, MD, HMD…..read  what cancer specialists don’t want you to know.

2) MONEY DRIVEN MEDICINE by Dr David K Cundiff, MD…..read about                   chemotherapy for Non-responsive cancers

3) NATURAL STRATEGIES FOR CANCER PATIENTS  by Dr Russell Blaylock, MD…..Chapter 3 is entitled  Chemotherapy: Poisoning Cancer (and You).

 4) KNOCKOUT ….INTERVIEWS WITH DOCTORS WHO ARE CURING CANCER by Suzanne Somers ( read Dr Forsythe’s interview in Chapter 9 )

5) CANCER: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW (about Surgery, Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy, Pharmaceutical Drugs and the Politics of Cancer by Dr Chris Teo)

 6) GETTING IT RIGHT(a book of quotations from established medical journals and    renowned medical experts by Dr Chris Teo).

7) WHAT YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CANCER by Dr. Robert Buckman in collaboration with specialists at The MD Anderson Cancer Centre, Texas. (read Chapter 9 – With So Many Breakthroughs, Why is There No Progress?)

8) AUSTRALIAN ONCOLOGISTS CRITICIZE CHEMOTHERAPY by Associate Professor Graeme Morgan, a Radiation Oncologist and Professor Robyn Ward, a Medical Oncologist in Australia and Dr Michael Barton, MD, a radiation oncologist. (all three oncologists did a research study on “ THE CONTRIBUTION OF CYTOTOXIC CHEMOTHERAPY TO 5-YEAR SURVIVAL IN ADULT MALIGNANCIES” which was published in the journal CLINICAL ONCOLOGY in 2004) …(COPIES AVAILABLE FOR READING)

9) ARTICLE: WHY 75% OF DOCTORS WOULD REFUSE CHEMOTHERAPY (just go to the Internet –Google or Yahoo and type in the above title and you will find a lot to read which your oncologist will never tell you).

10) ARTICLE: HOW MODERN MEDICINE KILLED MY BROTHER by Dr Russell Blaylock, MD, author of Natural Strategies for Cancer Patients. Just Google the title or Dr Russell Blaylock to read the article.

11) WHAT DOCTORS DON’T TELL YOU by Dr Lynne McTaggart (read about the truth of the dangers of modern medicine. Chemotherapy is cited in pages 223 to 229).

12) DVD: CANCER TALK by Dr Alfonso Wong, an oncologist from Hong Kong…..in the DVD, Dr Wong clearly explained that if after the first 4-6 cycles of chemotherapy there is no progress, then further chemotherapy will be futile…

13) DVD: DRUGS NEVER CURE DISEASE by Dr Lorraine Day, MD, a trauma surgeon and a breast cancer survivor. She had surgery to remove the big lump in her chest but refused any radiotherapy or chemotherapy…………….read more about Dr Day in her website……….www.drday.com

OTHER RELATED REFERENCES

1) THE TRUTH ABOUT THE DRUG COMPANIES by Dr Marcia Angell, MD, former editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine (read how they deceive us and what to do about it)

2) DEATH BY PRESCRIPTION by Dr Ray Strand, MD, (the shocking truth behind an overmedicated nation).

3) THE POLITICS OF CANCER REVISITED by Dr Samuel S. Epstein, MD (in this book, Dr Epstein indicts the NCI, US and the American Cancer Society for responsibility in losing the cancer war).

4) THE CANCER INDUSTRY by Dr Ralph Moss, PhD (The classic expose of the Cancer Establishment –read chapter 5 CHEMOTHERAPY).

5) CANCER AND NATURAL MEDICINE by Dr John Boik, PhD (read Chapter 9 – The Treatment of Cancer by Conventional Medicine).

6) THE HEALING OF CANCER – The cures and the cover-ups by Barry Lynes.

7) QUESTIONING CHEMOTHERAPYby Dr Ralph Moss, PhD….Dr Moss was formerly a director in the prestigious Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre, USA. He was sacked after he published a scientific study (conducted by researchers in the Cancer centre itself) that an alternative treatment method is effective……..

8) WWW.NATURALNEWS.COM …..operated by Mike Adams….just type in the name of the drug or type in chemotherapy effectiveness/side effects…..lots to read…

9) WWW.MERCOLA.COM …..operated by Dr. Joseph Mercola, MD…..just type in the name of the drugs or chemotherapy effectiveness, etc….also lots to read…

About CA Care

In obedience to God's will and counting on His mercies and blessings, and driven by the desire to care for one another, we seek to provide help, direction and relief to those who suffer from cancer.
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